Tuesday, January 1, 1935. “Tom East started work as foreman of San Antonio Viejo Ranch today. Corrida gathered remuda.”
This simple journal entry was made by Tom T. East, Jr. just 6 days shy of his 18th birthday. By 1935, the San Antonio Viejo Ranch had been sold to Henrietta King, and became part of King Ranch upon her passing. This meant that Tom’s Uncle, Bob Kleberg, was now Tom’s boss. Tom Sr. had already proved himself a capable cow man. Along with his younger brother Robert, Tom had essentially spent his entire life on the San Antonio Viejo Ranch. He definitely knew the place well, and Bob Kleberg must have seen something special in him to trust him as foreman at such a young age. Tom East's journal gives detail of how he spent May of 1935:
May 1. “Worked at Moritas gathering R. Kings cattle. Slept with herd at La Para.”
May 2. “Got to Guachipin with Richard King’s steers.”
May 3. “Worked out and branded R. King’s steers at Draper Place.”
May 4. “Shipped out part of R. King’s steers. Received 1198 head of steers from Ceasar.”
May 6. “Branded R. King’s steers and put them in Hebbronville pens.”
May 7. “Got to San Pablo with 1200 yearlings.”
This was just one week of hard work that May. By the end of the month Tom’s corrida had shipped hundreds of steers, worked thousands of cattle, weaned over 2,000 calves, and castrated hundreds of bull calves. He branded with the Lazy Diamond, Running-W, and Diamond Bar. He also marked cattle with a 6 brand when working the Buena Vista. Each day, he noted the brand of cattle he worked at the top of the page of his journal. Just during May, he moved the cow camp eleven times: Gauchipin, La Para, San Pablo, Norias, Buena Vista, Agua Dulce, Agua Verde, Jardin, Blanco, Reed Ranch, and La Perla. Tom kept this pace of work throughout the entire year of 1935. He took very few days off.
By 1935 Tom Sr. was 46 years old. He was splitting his time between Kingsville and his home at San Antonio Viejo. He was working for both himself and King Ranch – and he was also in partnership with his brother Arthur, who was married to Sarita Kenedy. Given his business affairs, T. T. East, Sr. could not have had much time to work cattle at his ranch home. But his son was the ranch foreman, so he must have taken some comfort in knowing that the ranch was in capable hands.
Tom’s journal entries for that year reflected a young man that knew the land, knew what it could produce, and had confidence in his own abilities to manage the day-to-day working of a large ranching enterprise.
Today, all the pastures and places that Tom East made cow camp in that May of 80 years ago are still there – and they still have the same names. The ground is sacred, not only because it is still there, but because it was worked by those that need to be measured up to. This is how it should be.
Note: Thank you to Mike East for the copy of his father’s Journal from 1935.